Tokaji Aszú is a full-bodied, sweet dessert wine featuring grapes harvested from the Tokaj wine region in Northern Hungary.

Though excellent in taste and quality, this wine is produced in a most peculiar way; the shriveled and overly-ripe grapes that are infected by a mold (Botrytis cinerea) growing on the regional Hárslevelű vines, magically become sugary sweet (if only men worked that way).

These grapes are then collected in a large vat, trampled into a paste and stirred for up to 48 hours, then mixed in a cask with grape must.

Aszú wines tend to have a higher alcohol content (14%) than your average dessert wine and have an annual production so low that it’s typically less than 1% of the entire region’s wine input.

It gets more technical than this but you get the idea.

The brilliant topaz-colored wine has a special place in my heart for personal reasons too; one of my clients owns a vineyard. I’ve witnessed firsthand the time and dedication that goes into producing such a delicate and unique product.

With such a tiny production, I knew that I needed to go to Hungary personally and sample a few varieties (I know, poor me) before deciding which Aszú would be most suitable to give to clients and friends as gifts.

The trip itself was no easy feat (is anything that’s worth doing, I ask you?); I had to literally travel by plane, train and automobile to reach Tokaj.

But, alas, I have no complaints. I found the perfect wine and had lovely custom labels made for my gift bottles.

When I first started looking for ideas, I was a little worried that people wouldn’t like my selections. Luckily, I’ve come to realize that when you put a good amount of thought and care (and in this case mileage) into it, people can’t help but appreciate the effort.


Thelma West

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